Is There a Connection Between Psoriasis and Fibromyalgia?
Psoriasis is an immune-related disease affecting the skin, causing raised and red scaly patches, with plaque psoriasis being the most common kind of psoriasis. That being said, psoriasis has been associated with other health conditions, including psoriatic arthritis – which, in turn, has been linked to further health ailments. Knowing the associations between disorders can be important in obtaining accurate diagnosis and getting appropriate treatment.
What is psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammation musculoskeletal disorder affecting joints and areas where tendons and ligaments connect with bone.1 Inflammation can cause pain, fatigue, swelling and joint stiffness. It occurs in about 30% of those with psoriasis, usually about 10 years after psoriasis starts.1,2 The course of PsA can vary among individuals, so it may develop slowly in some people but much faster in others. Common symptoms include tiredness, tenderness, and pain near tendons, reduced range of motion, stiffness or swelling in one or more joints, and redness or pain of the eye.1 There doesn’t seem to be a connection between how severe a person’s psoriasis is and the severity of PsA.1
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which a person has widespread pain all over the body, along with sleep issues and fatigue.3 It is also thought that those with fibromyalgia experience pain differently than those who don’t have the condition, and are more sensitive to it. Common symptoms, in addition to generalized widespread pain, include stiffness all over the body, depression or anxiety, cognitive issues like memory problems, headaches, and digestive issues.3 The exact cause of fibromyalgia isn’t known, and while it can’t be cured, it can be managed.
Associations between psoriasis and fibromyalgia
While the cause of fibromyalgia is not known, it has been associated with other diseases, including psoriasis and PsA. One study found that a little over 8% of individuals in the study with psoriasis were also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and another 9% had chronic widespread pain.4
Another study found that fibromyalgia was much more common in those with arthritic diseases, including PsA.5 The prevalence of fibromyalgia in those with PsA ranged from 9.6% to 27.2%, with the average being 18%. Individuals without comorbid fibromyalgia were more likely to have a higher chance of remission.5 Fibromyalgia was associated with more disease and worsening of symptoms.
Although the association is stronger between fibromyalgia and PsA than with psoriasis, the fact that a significant percentage of those with psoriasis go on to develop PsA make this an important connection. An individual could have psoriasis, PsA, and fibromyalgia, causing a significant amount of symptoms, and the conditions may have various effects on disease courses, making this an important area of study. This may also impact treatment options and approaches.
Things to consider
If you have psoriasis and think you might also have either PsA or fibromyalgia, it’s important that you see a doctor specializing in joint diseases, like a rheumatologist. They can evaluate you and rule out other causes for your symptoms. There is no definitive test for either PsA or fibromyalgia, but they’ll do a physical examination, go over your personal and family medical history, and order any clinical or imaging tests they deem necessary. Taken together, all of these things will help give them a detailed, multi-faceted picture of your health situation and enable them to make a new diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment.
How often do you experience brain fog?